Celebrating Maj Hapworth, 2022 Elder Day Honoree

Woody Fridae photographed each of the 2022 Elder Day honorees. (Crystal Apilado/Winters Express)

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By Wally Pearce, Winters Elder Day Council
Special to the Express

Maj Hapworth (Woody Fridae/Courtesy photo)

Maj Hapworth (pronounced My) was born in Stockholm Sweden on Thursday, Jan. 21, 1932. Hapworth came to the United States in 1933 when she was nine months old, becoming a citizen in 1941. At age 91, she was honored as one of the 2022 honorees at the fourth annual Winters Elders Day celebration.

Hapworth’s parents met in Stockholm and were engaged for four years prior to being married. Her dad was a civil-engineer, and her mother was an interior designer. Hapworth’s dad later became a licensed contractor. Her parents lived to be in their early 90s.

Hapworth had an older brother named “Swede,” who was in the Navy’s submarine branch. Swede was four years older, and whatever Swede did, the younger Hapworth wanted to do. Sadly, her brother is now deceased. Swede retired from the Navy as a Colonel after 30 years of service.

Hapworth had a great dog named “Wolfy,” and he was well-trained to react to the whistle. Whenever it was time to eat lunch or dinner while the children were out playing, her mother would blow the whistle and Wolfy would find Hapworth and her brother, then bring them home.

Growing up, Hapworth lived in New Jersey and later moved to Maine. The house they lived in there didn’t have any indoor electrical, kitchen water hand-pump, and wood stove, to bathe they had to heat the water over the stove. The bathroom was a three-seater and very cold during the winter. They also had livestock and received their mild from the cow.

One of Hapworth’s vivid memories was once while walking with her mother, she mother noticed that Hapworth was chewing something and when asked Hapworth told her it was gum. When asked where she got the gum, Hapworth pointed to the sidewalk saying it was very pretty. Hapworth said the gum was rather crunchy before she had to it spit it out.

Hapworth’s dad was a licensed contractor and built several homes including a home where the family lived.

Hapworth recalls that during WW2, her brother often went outside to identify aircraft, and how the family would have blackouts, ration-stamps, and practice air-raid drills. But everyone helped each other.

Hapworth and her husband Robert E. “Hap” Hapworth were married nearly 66 years. Maj’s husband was the most influential person for her. She said he was a rock.

Hap was a principal working for the Department of the Defense in the Army, while they lived in France and Germany.

Hapworth and her family came to Winters in 1965 and built their home in Golden Bear Estates, a community just off Hwy 128, living there for 40 years before moving into the city.

Just after WW2, Hapworth recalls traveling from east to west of Berlin and how children would be standing alongside the road and not wave for fear of being mistaken as a Nazi salute.

Hapworth started high school in a one-room school, but later went to a larger school when the family moved.

Hapworth attended college and received her degree in education and would later become an excellent teacher for 40 years. While going to college, the boys lived in homes and the girls lived in the college dorms. Both Hapworth and her husband Hap taught school, but Hap became a school principal for a brief-time. Hapworth was an aid at Wolfskill School, and was later hired by fellow honoree Jim Bernardy as a teacher

Hapworth said she received her license to drive at age 15 by driving a borrowed Ford coupe. Later, Hapworth would own her personal car named “Clarabell,” a Model-A Ford.

Today, Hapworth has two daughters, seven grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.

Hapworth continues with her family’s holiday traditions such as Easter where they have an Easter Tree made up of flowers, feathers, and other ornaments, to be celebrated. One of the other traditions is to have breakfast in bed on a person’s birthday.

If Hapworth could have done something differently it would be to stay closer with family and friends.

Hapworth said she believes that her brother Swede is one of her role-models and set a wonderful standard of life for her.

If a young person were to ask Hapworth for advice, she would tell them to “be aware of their surrounding and limit their time on electronic devices. Get involved in the community.” Hapworth would also tell them “not to expect something for nothing. Don’t be indifferent and accept your actions and be accountable.”

As a successful teacher of over 40-years, Hapworth would like to be remembered someday as loving teacher who revered her students, and she also hope that her students adored her. Hapworth would like to be remembered by her family as a someone who dearly loves them and enjoyed the times, they shared cooking together.

Maj Hapworth is a beautiful person and the City of Winters community is a better place by her presence.

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